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Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara
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Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  293 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Theda Bara became an overnight superstar with her film debut in the scandalous 1915 hit A Fool There Was, and for the rest of that decade stayed at the top of the heap, along with Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Despite her fame and notoriety as the movies' first "sex symbol, " no biography of the original Vamp has ever been written, even though Bara threatened to pen h ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 5th 1998 by Vestal Press (first published 1996)
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Posterity has been both cruel and kind to Theda Bara.
In a sense, she's luckier than most of the forgotten stars of the early silent movies, because, even though most people no longer know her name, there is at least one iconic image of her that has seeped into the collective consciousness: her intense brooding gaze, directed at us from eyes surrounded by dark makeup rings and a head bedecked in faux-Egyptian headdress; her plumpish body sprawled and barely covered, her breast contours exposed an
This is a necessarily brief biography of an important cultural figure. Almost all her films have disappeared and the published information about her early life is almost entirely studio-created nonsense (she was "born in the shadow of the pyramids"--actually Cincinatti). Her active career as an onscreen sex bomb, the woman for whom the word "vamp" was invented, was also very brief--only from 1914 to 1919. What's left of that career are a few films (considered even at the time as some of her weak ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it
A brief, but highly enjoyable read one can complete in a day. Eve Golden related the brief, brilliant, troubled film career of Theda Bara, one of the first 'femme-fatales' of the silent era. Great for lovers of tall tales, as well as any film history buff.
Jenn Chaplin
Aug 14, 2013 Jenn Chaplin rated it it was amazing
More of an enigma than an actress, Theda Bara continues to captivate far long after her reign as the "Vamp." That in part has to do with the fact that only a couple films of hers survived after Fox Studio's film reels caught fire. There remains just a very small footage of her most intriguing film, Cleopatra, that only succeeds in heightening mystery that surrounds her. The still shots however remain and draw you to her captivating presence. This biography gives good insight into who she really ...more
Sep 05, 2008 Greta rated it really liked it
Entertaining and witty account of Theda’s life and career. Very well researched , and manages to talk about the films and their plots without making them tedious.
Jill Hutchinson
Theda Bara......the name conjures up mystery and evil deeds. Not a bad start for a Jewish girl from Cincinnati named Theodosa Goodman, plain and rather pudgy with a big chin and thin lips. William Fox of Fox Studios (later to morph into 20h Century Fox) took her and turned her into the biggest silent star of all times. Yet she is practically unknown today except to the silent film fan.....most of her films have been lost so the viewer doesn't see all her work but her first huge hit "A Fool There ...more
PennsyLady (Bev)
Jan 24, 2016 PennsyLady (Bev) rated it really liked it

"Theda Bara July 29, 1885 – April 13, 1955), born Theodosia Burr Goodman, was an American silent film actress – one of the most popular of her era, and one of cinema's earliest sex symbols.
Her femme fatale roles earned her the nickname "The Vamp" (short for vampire). Bara, Valeska Suratt, and Musidora popularized the vamp persona in the early years of silent film.

Theda Bara was was the initial Goth Girl.
While she was less than the very first female “vampire” on screen, she was the first one to b
Madison Grace
Jun 15, 2015 Madison Grace rated it really liked it
Unlike Gish, Pickford, and Bow, Theda Bara is a face associated with the silent era that we really know little about. Her name and likeness are tossed around and she's often spoke of as one of the quintessential stars of the silent screen. However, so little of her filmography exists that it's close to impossible to discuss her as anything more than a name and likeness. Aside from "A Fool There Was", her existing films are trite melodramas and a hopeless comedy short. Even her epic "Cleopatra" e ...more
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Nov 11, 2008 Martha rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in silent films or movie history.
Recommended to Martha by:
Theda Bara was a silent film star of the 1910s who was very famous in her time for her femme fatale roles, is largely forgotten today. That's mainly because most of her films have been lost. Only about five of her 42 movies exist today. Most were lost in a studio fire.

I liked this book mostly because I'm interested in its subject matter - movie history, and especially the early history. It didn't delve very deeply into the subject's personal life. At times it almost reads like a filmography. Mo
Jun 18, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
Theda Bara was the first really famous vamp of silent screen fame, although I think it was mostly her eyes and perhaps her onscreen movements that capture her fandom. Most of her work is lost, however, although there seems to be plenty of still photography, much of it displayed in this book. I didn't love the book, but clearly research was under taken and it is not terribly written, although I could nitpick.
Jun 28, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More informative than it was "entertaining", but I think that's because I've been conditioned to equate scandal with excitement, and this lady had no scandals to speak of. Pure class! Learned a lot about the silent age and the failure we've had in preserving our past. I recommend this.
Sep 25, 2011 Allyson rated it liked it
this book was a hard one to find. while its the only book about theda bara, it was ok. she was not really that exciting of a person and absolutely NOTHING like her vamp persona. i am glad i finally got to read it however and recommend it for anyone who enjoys the old silent films or movie history. it was sad to learn that out of 40+ movies only 3 of hers remain and they are not even the films that she was at her best in. It would have been a shear delight to see her versions of camille, cleopatr ...more
Sep 18, 2014 Bill rated it liked it
Theda Bara fell through the cracks of history this book brings her back into the light. She was film's first superstar and sex symbol but unfortunately most of her work has disappeared. Her image still resonates though stills to this day mostly as camp photos. She is important because she stared it all. And it is to our regret that we no longer can see her best work.
Feb 26, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it
Fast paced, full of pictures and interesting information - it's exactly what you want a biography to be.
Jan 18, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
A well-researched quick read, Eve Golden's biography of the screen's first sex symbol makes me really wish a copy of Cleopatra would turn up in a musty basement somewhere; from the mere 21 seconds that exist, I can tell that Theda brought more to a role than dramatic makeup and exotic costumes.
Feb 09, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
Vamp was an interesting read. I'm fascinated by early movie history. Theda Bara was a huge star in the very early days of the 20th century. She, like many stars of silent film, never made the jump to "talkies". Unfortunately, only a few of her movies are still in existence.
Dixie Diamond
Dec 28, 2008 Dixie Diamond rated it really liked it
Very nice photographs interspersed amid the text. Bara was shockingly ordinary--she sounded very much like me, except with a double life as a goth film star.

This is also interesting for its tidbits on the very early days of movie production.
Jul 02, 2013 Dani-girl rated it it was amazing
This was a really good in depth story of Theda Bara's life of lies lol. Love the pictures. This is also a must read for people who are interested in how the film industry worked back then in the silent era.
Mar 19, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing
Golden has a real way with words and telling the story with elan and great wit. An excellent and level-headed Bio of the first silent vamp.
Jul 10, 2013 Julia rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at one of the forgotten "famous" silent film stars. If you're interested in silent films, then you need to read this.
Arsenio Peraza
Apr 10, 2013 Arsenio Peraza rated it it was amazing
the original Bad girl in films that she could never escape from.
Heather McConnell
Apr 25, 2011 Heather McConnell rated it it was ok
Sadly, it's not terribly interesting. I was disappointed.
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Eve Golden is a biographer whose work focuses on American silent film, theater and early twentieth century actresses.
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